Is there a fluoride debate in your future?
Public health advocates hailed the 5-0 vote by the Portland, Ore., city council on Sept. 12 approving the fluoridation of the city’s water supply. Fluoride opponents jeered and swore they would fight on.
Until the vote, Portland had been the largest U.S. city that had a non-fluoridated water system. The story was all over the evening news.
Here is how NPR’s Kristian Foden-Vencil handled the decision, in a piece that came out of a reporting partnership that included NPR, Oregon Public Broadcasting and Kaiser Health News.
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He spoke with Kim Kaminski, of Clean Water Portland, a group which is battling the introduction of fluoride in Portland’s water.
“She cited studies to support her cause,” Foden-Vencil reported. “Perhaps the most worrisome was a 2006 Harvard study. A key finding:
“For males less than 20 years old, fluoride levels in drinking water during growth is associated with an increased risk of osteosarcoma.”
“Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer.”
But he also sought out Dr. Catherine Hayes of Health Resources in Action, an adviser to the 2006 study and co-author of a follow-up study and deconstructed the finding.
Hayes told Foden-Vencil that in the second study, “the researchers looked at samples of bone from people who had the cancer – instead of just gathering information about previous cases of the disease, as the first study had done,” Foden-Vencil reported. The researchers concluded there was no link between osteosarcoma and fluoride.
“There was no difference in the amount of fluoride in the bone,” Hayes said. “That’s really significant, because now we’re not estimating fluoride intake, we’re really measuring it.”
There is sure to be another story. Fluoride opponents have pledged to gather enough signatures to place the issue on a future election ballot.
There are stories to be written elsewhere. Phoenix, Ariz., just voted to continue fluoridating its water. Fluoridation will be put to a public vote on Nov. 6 in Wichita, Kan. In Missouri, St. Louis and St. Charles have reduced the amount of fluoride added to the city’s water supply. In Canada, the town of Red Deer, Alberta, “will decide next month whether to reduce, increase or eliminate fluoride in drinking water.” Officials in Santa Fe, N.M., are considering putting the fluoridation issue to a vote.
Are communities you cover considering fluoridation or perhaps reducing or eliminating fluoride from the water supply?